In a recent lawsuit in San Francisco, Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended tweets he posted in August 2018.
In those tweets, Musk stated that he had “secured funding” to take Tesla private at $420 per share. He also said that “investor support” had been “confirmed”. As a result, trading in Tesla’s stock temporarily halted. The stock then remained unstable for weeks. Musk later indicated at the time that he was in talks with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, but a deal never materialized.
As a result of the tweets, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Musk and Tesla with civil securities fraud. Musk and Tesla separately paid the agency $20 million in fines. In addition, they also entered into a revised settlement agreement that required Musk to temporarily step down as Tesla’s chairman of the board. The mogul’s Twitter activity also sparked a class action lawsuit from Tesla investor shareholders, who claimed Musk’s tweets were misleading and had cost them a lot of money.
Under oath, Musk said on Friday that it is difficult to link Tesla’s share price to his tweets. He stated that “there have been a lot of instances where I thought if I tweeted something the stock price would fall”, but he went higher. Musk also revealed that he thinks badly of short sellers as he believes “short selling should be made illegal”.
Musk said short sellers were “bad people on Wall Street” who “steal” from other investors. That reports CNBC, when Musk tweeted about taking Tesla private in 2018, Tesla was one of the stocks with the most short positions. The company’s share price rose almost 10% that day.
Musk will continue to testify on Monday.